Belle De Jour (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
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The porcelain perfection of Catherine Deneuve (Repulsion) hides a cracked interior in the actress’s most iconic role: SÃ©verine, a chilly Paris housewife by night, a bordello prostitute by day. This surreal and erotic late-sixties daydream from provocateur for the ages Luis BuÃ±uel (Viridiana) is an examination of desire and fetishistic pleasure (its characters’ and its viewers’), as well as a gently absurdist take on contemporary social mores and class divisions. Fantasy and reality commingle in this burst of cinematic transgression, which was one of BuÃ±uel’s biggest hits.
SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES • New high-definition digital restoration • Audio commentary featuring Michael Wood, author of the BFI Film Classics book Belle de jour • New video piece featuring writer and sexual-politics activist Susie Bright and film scholar Linda Williams • New interview with screenwriter Jean-Claude CarriÃ¨re • Excerpt from the French television program CinÃ©ma, featuring interviews with CarriÃ¨re and actress Catherine Deneuve • Original and American release trailers • New and improved English subtitle translation • PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Melissa Anderson and a 1970s interview with director Luis BuÃ±uel
A young Paris housewife, Séverine, grows bored with her stable husband. When she learns of the presence of a high-class brothel in her neighborhood, she quietly goes to work there--but only during the day, until five o'clock in the afternoon. This sublime 1967 film is one of the latter-day masterpieces of the Spanish-born director Luis Buñuel, whose career forms one of the greatest and boldest arcs in cinema. By the time of Belle de Jour, Buñuel had become almost completely deadpan in his style, which not only leaves the motivation of Séverine a mystery (despite a few flashbacks to degradations of her youth), but also casts the entire plot in doubt. An old surrealist from the 1920s (when his first classic, Un Chien Andalou, was made in collaboration with Salvador Dali), Buñuel suggests that what we see may be real, or simply Séverine's imagination. Because he was the least pretentious of directors, Buñuel keeps his material playful, wicked, yet cutting. As Séverine, the impossibly lovely Catherine Deneuve uses her cool demeanor to great effect--she never breaks her deadpan, either. In 1995, after having been out of official circulation for years, Belle de Jour was re-released in America and became an unexpected art-house hit. --Robert Horton
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Top Customer Reviews
Séverine (Deneuve) has everything a young middle class woman is supposed to want. She has a handsome, caring doctor for a husband named Pierre (Sorel), a beautiful home, and plenty of fashionable clothing. But she is not happy. Her bland spouse treats her like a child, so she indulges in dark brutal fantasies filled with guilt, passion, and pain. Already inclined to sadomasochistic fantasies due to some unknown trauma in her past, Severine is increasingly drawn to acting upon her need for degradation. Bored with her life, she works during the afternoons at a brothel which caters to this proclivity, yet she is still the good bourgeois wife who informs her madam that she has to be home by five p.m. (her alias at the brothel is Belle de Jour, a pun on the French euphemism for prostitute, "belle de nuit"). She enjoys this double life until one of her customers, a gangster, becomes so obsessed with her to the point that he is determined to kill her husband. What follows next is a meditation on ambiguity on all levels. Severine is morally torn between living as an upper-class ice maiden and an abandoned fantasy woman. Although Severine is trying to stop her husband's murder, her efforts seem to be somewhat half-hearted, almost as if she is willing to tempt fate.
Thanks to Sacha Vierny's stunning color cinematography, Yves Saint Laurent's couture and her own genes, Deneuve herself looks beautiful that even she seems unreal an indication of how beautiful Deneuve is in this film can be found by recalling Grace Kelly in her Hitchcock period.Read more ›
Throughout the film Deneuve slips in and out of memory and fantasy, sometimes recalling herself as a possibly molested child, sometimes imagining herself as the victim in a series of sexual assault fantasies. Director Bunuel, whose masterpiece this is, so blurs the line between memory, reality, and fantasy that by the film's conclusion one cannot be sure if some, most, or everything about the film has been Deneuve's fantasy. Although it includes a number of impressive performances (particularly by Geneviève Page, her girls, and their clients), BELLE is essentially Deneuve's film from start to finish, and she gives an astonishing performance that cannot be easily described. Like the film itself, it is a balancing act between fantasy and a plausible reality that may actually be nothing of the kind. Bunuel presents both her and the film as a whole in an almost clinical manner, and is less interested in gaining our sympathy for the character than in presenting her as an object for intellectual observation.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
This is a great movie. But i ordered the Blue-Ray version and got the DVD. This is the first time i have a mess up like this, so i just decided to eat the loss. Read morePublished on Aug. 9 2013 by Rod Stinson
Buy this one along with "The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie". Two excellent later Bunuel films with very good bluray transfers. Read morePublished on May 22 2013 by nobody
French, just French. Lovely language, especially if you understand it (so I'm told). This disc has no English content: no English audio and NO ENGLISH SUBTITLES.Published on May 17 2013 by Bob
This review is for the version by Alliance Films Release Date: Sep 4 2012 ASIN: B008OTGBMU.
I'm used to important French films always having English subtitles. Read more
Great movie with a great transfer but....it is a region B blu-ray. This is the european edition. You will need a blu-ray player which is switchable to region B. Read morePublished on July 13 2010 by L. Chausse
Horrible example of passe erotica...PG-13 by today's standards. Not in the same league as The Story of O, Emmanuel, or The Image. Read morePublished on Nov. 20 2002